Guilford College Baseball Drops Opening Contest of Best-Of-Three Set Against Shenandoah

Baseball Drops Opening Contest of Best-Of-Three Set Against Shenandoah
Quakers with backs against the wall entering do-or-die Sunday
from Bryce Johnson, Director of Athletic Communications for the Guilford College Quakers

WINCHESTER, Va. – The power of third-seeded Shenandoah University, who launched four home runs, proved too much to overcome for the sixth-seeded Guilford College baseball team on Saturday afternoon as they fell, 12-4 in game one of the opening weekend, best-of-three series in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Baseball Tournament at Kevin Anderson Field at Bridgeforth Stadium.

With the defeat, the Quakers drop to 20-21, but more importantly put themselves into a make-or-break situation entering tomorrow’s game two. Conversely, the Hornets are now in the driver’s seat of the series as they improve to 26-15.

Marcello Ricigliano (Kernersville, N.C.) got the game one nod for the Quakers and he was solid albeit plagued by a couple of big swings. He finished throwing 6.0 innings allowing six runs, all earned, on 11 hits, two of them longballs. He did not walk a man while striking out five taking the loss to fall to 4-6. The Hornets were unafraid to let their ace, Jacob Bell, loose as he accumulated 124 pitches across 8.0 innings. He did allow seven hits and four walks, but only three runs, all of them earned against three K’s to improve to 8-2.

Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C.) finished as the Quakers’ top hitter, registering two hits, scoring once and driving in another run in the contest. Batting out of the leadoff spot for the first time this season, Grayson Tudor (Reidsville, N.C.) was productive with a couple of hits, a steal, and a run driven in. Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.) reached twice on a single and by hit by a pitch, scoring once and driving in one. Skyler Dark (Pleasant Garden, N.C.) reached twice via walks, as did Nick Boles (Madison, N.C.) who added a single in the contest. Kyle Garrett and Brodie Pickette each went deep for Shenandoah in the contest but Connor Houser one-upped them with two longballs on the day. He finished with six runs driven in to lead all players. Gavin Horning was also a particularly sharp thorn in GC’s side, as they retired him just once across his five plate appearances that included three hits, among them a double, scoring once and driving in two. Pearce Bucher contributed with two singles and an RBI, scoring on three occasions.

Guilford took advantage of some free baserunners to seize the lead in the top of the first. With one away, Sumner got drilled with a pitch, right in the center of the four on his back to reach base, advancing to second on a free pass drawn by Dark and then third on a flyout. Wade ensured the opportunity would not get wasted, finding a hole with a single the opposite way, and while Dark was thrown out going first-to-third on the play, the Quakers had the lead.

Shenandoah countered in the home half. Frankie Ritter led off with a grounder deep in the shortstop hole that Sumner knocked down, but could not get an out on. Two batters later, Chandler Ballenger doubled down the line in left to put two men in scoring position with one out. Horning followed, tapping a soft single that split the infield in half and into center. Ritter scored easily, but Boles unleashed a perfect throw to the plate, cutting down Ballenger with his fifth outfield assist of the season. Horning took second on the throw, but a groundout ensured nothing more would come of the threat as the first inning ended in a 1-1 tie.

Striving to regain the advantage, GC had a chance in the top of the third, putting Boles and Tudor on the corners via a walk and a single to open the inning. Sumner lifted one into right, on which Boles tried to score, but Horning threw him out with his second outfield assist of the game to keep things tied. Instead, it would be the hosts who would take the lead in the bottom of the inning. Leading off, the nine-hole hitter Garrett got a 1-1 pitch to drive and cleared the centerfield fence for the first longball of his career to grab the lead. Ritter followed with a second hit that did not reach the outfield grass, this time knocked down by Wade. A couple of strikeouts followed, but Ricigliano saw one leak over the plate that Horning hooked for a double into left, extending the lead to 3-1 a third of the way through.

The Quakers answered in the top of the fourth with Wade and Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) straddling the first out with singles before Ty Clark (Stoneville, N.C.) tapped what could have been an inning-ending double play, but instead the relay throw to first was wide and off the facing of the dugout allowing Wade to dart home. Boles followed with a beautiful drag bunt to third and Tudor evened things with a bloop single to right-center as the score was tied again, now at three all.

The home team reclaimed the advantage for good in the bottom of the fifth, a couple of singles and a fielders choice put runners on the corners, but it did not matter as Houser got a 2-1 pitch he could do damage on, launching a no-doubter to rightfield, his third of the season, doubling the Hornets’ scoring output with one swing of the bat, making the score 6-3.

SU added some insurance in the seventh. Now facing Griffin Icenhower (Kernersville, N.C.), the first two men reached on a single and a hit batsman before they both advanced on a passed ball. A Pearce Bucher single and a productive groundout by Houser extended the lead to 8-3. Another pitching change brought Reese Baker (Ashland, Va.) in and two batters later, Pickette bashed a 1-0 offering for his fifth homer of the season, getting the hosts into double digits at 10-3.

In the eighth, Houser launched his second home run of the contest, a two-run shot to left. Sumner then plated Nico Clark (Winston-Salem, N.C.) with a groundout in the ninth to bring the final tallies to 12-4.

Now with their backs against the wall, the Quakers look to fight back in this best-of-three set tomorrow as they will play game two of the series at noon at Kevin Anderson Field at Bridgeforth Stadium. If they survive, game three would be played after that.